Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review - Can I Really Trust The Bible: And other questions about Scripture, truth and how God speaks

This book is for either the person who trusts the Bible and can’t explain why or for the person who doesn’t trust the Bible and can explain why.  The book contains a clearly laid out, well-orchestrated line of thought with clear examples.

For the first person, this book provides a nice framework for thinking about the reliability of the bible.  It claims to be God’s word (2 chapters), it seems to be God’s word (2 chapters) and it proves to be God’s word (1 chapter).  Using this skeleton to frame the answer to the question raised in the book title, a believer is able to remember and explain to an unbeliever why the Bible is reliable and trustworthy.
The person who doubts the Bible is trustworthy likely has one or two reasons why. Is this case it is fairly easy to search through the book and find the reasons addressed. The author has put many of the common reasons people give for not trusting the Bible, in sidebars.
While the book is very short (a small book with 81 pages), it really is substantial and fairly complete. I especially liked the section that explained why the Old Testament books and New Testament books are not in chronological order.  I don’t ever remember reading such a clear and concise explanation.

Even if you already trust the Bible, this book is worth reading. It is a wonderful, short, concise and accessible introduction to the Bible and it’s reliability.  It is one of those books that has explanations worth memorizing and meditating upon.  If you were to read only one book on this topic, this is it.

I received this book free from The Good Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review - A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ by Stanley Gale

A Vine Ripened Life is a welcome addition to what is often only a mystical explanation of what it means to ‘abide in Christ’. It is a clear explanation of what it means to not only abide in Christ, but to bear abundant fruit.

One of the most useful sections of Stanley Gale’s new book is found in Chapter 1 where he details the essence of abiding with Christ.  “Freedom from bondage to sin for development of the fruit of the Spirit is forged by union with Christ” says Stanley Gale. And that fruit is formed in reliance on the Holy Spirit who is now at work in you, as you focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ by spending time in his word, in prayer, and in fellowship with the Saints.

In this reviewer’s experience, the topic of our union with Christ is often presented as only an objective reality. John Calvin once wrote "We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us....All that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him" (Institutes, III.i.1).     In A Vine-Ripened Life, Stanley Gale makes it clear how abiding in Christ makes it possible to experience the subjective side of the reality of our union with Christ, bearing mature, abundant fruit that manifest itself in a distinctively Christian character.

In chapter 2 Stanley Gale talks of the discipline of the Father and how not to make light of it. He spells out how to recognize it, value it and heed it.

Using personal stories and many biblical references, the fruit of the Spirit is detailed in chapters 3-11. There is an additional chapter on humility and the book ends with a very helpful chapter on grace.

I’ve read other books on Abiding in Christ, including Andrew Murray’s classic work. In comparison, I find this book easier to relate to and more engaging.  I’ve marked this book up so much – I need to purchase one to give away!

I received this book for free from Shepherd Press via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.